www.whyville.net Jul 27, 2008 Weekly Issue

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Positive and Strong

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What are some of the complaints you have in your life? Is summer vacation too short? Was that cute pair of shorts you saw in the mall last week in every size but yours? What if you had bigger complaints? Like having to wear a brace on your right leg or having to do tests that involve sleep deprivation (going without sleep for a certain amount of time)? What was supposed to be just another checkup with her doctor opened a door to something she had never even thought about.

She was just another ordinary girl until second grade. She was just in for another regular (and somewhat dreaded) visit to the doctor, or so she thought. Her doctor happened to notice that she walked differently on her right foot than her left. When she took of her shoes he noticed something about her right foot. She was walking on her tip toe. This was something she had always done. She and her parents had never paid much attention to it. They didn't think it was anything to worry about. Her doctor had a different opinion. He sent her to another doctor. He diagnosed her with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a muscle disease. I won't go into the medical definition because that is confusing. It basically means that some muscles in her right leg were unwilling to cooperate with the rest of her body. In some cases people have to be in a wheelchair for their whole lives. She was lucky hers wasn't a severe case. The doctor gave her two options Botox (a medicine that would have to be injected into her leg to relax her muscles) or a brace. She hates injections more than almost anything else. I can safely say she has had her fair share of those. She chose the brace. At first it seemed like the worst possible thing that could happen to someone and she felt like she wouldn't be able to do some things other people could do. After a few months of wearing the brace however she started to see that it wasn't so bad. Over time she started to like it because it made her individual. When she got her third brace she discovered that she could put patterns on it. She loved the idea. The one she has now has swirls of very bright colors on it. Whenever people asked her why her brace is so colorful she says, "If I have to wear it why not make it interesting!" She has to wear the brace until she is sixteen but she doesn't mind.

That wasn't the end of her unusual medical life. In third grade she had a seizure. Right in the middle of music class! The doctor told her that she was going to be fine. In fourth grade one of her doctors decided that it would be a good idea for her to have a test to see if she had any seizures when she was a baby. There was only one catch. The test involved sleep deprivation. So she and her mother stayed at a hotel in the town where the test was done. They went looking for new bedding at 1:00a.m. in WalMart. Why not do something constructive with all those extra hours? At 3:00a.m. they had a late night snack at a local Denny's restaurant. She doesn't remember much after that. The test came back and there was no sign of her ever having a seizure before. One of her doctors gave her some medicine to try to prevent her from having seizures. She has done two more sleep deprivation tests since then and says they get easier the more you do them! Apparently the medication is working because the tests show that she hasn't had a seizure since third grade.

She was wrong when she thought that she couldn't do things other people could. She currently plays basketball and volleyball and loves them both. She might not be the best on the team but people respect her for doing it even though it might be harder for her than the other girls. Her life has taken some unexpected twists and turns but she's come through it all and learned a valuable lesson: if you think positive and stay strong nothing can keep you down.

I'm not asking you to pity me when you read this. I just want you to know that if being positive and staying strong worked for me it will work for you too. So don't let anything stop you form doing what you want to do! Even if it's a crazy-colored brace!


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